Most of us have been asked to purchase products to support our local schools. These campaigns are often put together with professional marketing, complete with a glossy brochure from some national organization. As parents, friends, and relatives, we feel compelled to purchase these products because we care about the schools and the children in our community. However, these products often impact our long-term sustainability. Consider that many of these products are non-recyclable, non-renewable, and, in other cases, unhealthy or even unwanted. Yet, we still want to find ways to support our schools. The following is a list of eco-friendly fundraising ideas and activities. Consider if any of these could be incorporated into your next fundraising event.
Can and bottle drive fundraising from the Fundraising Ideas & Products Center
Walk-A-Thons, etc. are a great way to promote physical activity, why not expand that to include cleaning up trails, parks, beaches and other eco-friendly work? Set a clean-up day where students get sponsors to donate 5 or 10 cents for every pound of garbage they gather from natural areas.
Recycled Print Cartridges and Cell Phones
Close the loop, recycle these technologies and raise funds for your school. Here is a list of possible vendors, although it is important to ask how they manage these items. For example, it is more environmentally sound to reuse the item than to incinerate it for energy.
Pencil holders and larger shoulder bags made from previously un-recycled waste materials. This project took off after a Colorado mom created them for a local school fundraiser. Merle has continued to work with schools in other states on their fundraisers and would be happy to field emails (her email address can be found on the website).
Scrip is a gift card for use at local retail stores. Schools purchase these cards at a discounted price and sell them at face value. Those wishing to support the school can purchase gift cards for establishments that they would frequent normally.
“Change a Light, Change the World” (formerly Lights for Learning program) from the Energy Trust of Oregon. This is an especially beneficial fundraiser as every incandescent light bulb replaced cuts down on green house gases.
Waste-free lunch kits; each one comes with a book of nutritious lunch ideas.
- Cards (on recycled paper)
- Cookbook (student and local recipes)
- Coupon Book (create and sell with deals from local businesses)
- Make A Class Item (e.g., quilt, ginger bread house) - raffle it off
- Craft Sale (be creative with using recycled materials) see some examples
- Video of local history or a "how-to" video
- School Calendar student drawings or photos – this could be a competition to get your artwork on one of the 12 months. Sell dates in the calendar (e.g., kid's birthdays or other special events) and advertising slots.
- Notebooks Bind single-sided pages into notebooks (Eco-Books).
- Flower Stall get permission to go to local farms and pick flowers to sell.
- Plant Sale could be locally grown, donated from local green nurseries, or grown in student nurseries and sold out of discarded containers.
- Compost made from organic school waste.
- Flower Bulbs
- Healthy Food Sales Fruit, bottled water, spices, or granola bars can be sold instead of junk foods.
- Fruit And Vegetable Stall Get permission to go to local farms and pick fruit to sell. Sell the produce in high-traffic areas or at community festivals.
- Fresh Fruit From Oregon Farmers Coordinated by Mark Read at 3F Consulting Services
- Organic Coffee Tortuga Coffee, Providence Coffee
- Organic Candy Fundraiser
Earth Friendly Fundraisers
- Steer Away From: Bake Sale/Cookie Sale - A 2000 report from the Centers for Disease Control found bake sales in two-thirds of schools. Time-strapped parents typically purchase low-nutrition baked goods for the sales, only to send their children to school with money to buy them back. Parents end up paying twice. An alternative might be a “non-bake bake sale” see the Collecting Donations section.
- Raffle/Auction donations from individuals, groups, or businesses
- Book Fairs The publishing company Scholastic sponsors more than 100,000 book fairs per year, which promote literacy as well as raise funds.
- Prom Boutique Collect used dresses throughout the year and sell them before school dances.
- Garage Sale
- Used Books
Many ideas in this category came from childline
- Coffee Morning for parents dropping kids off
- Pankcake Breakfast
- Dinner (spaghetti, etc)
- Tea Party
- International Dinner traditional ethnic foods
- Arts And Crafts Fair
- Book/Comic Sale
- Used Book Sale
- Bring And Buy Sale
- Raffles Sporting Events tickets donated from local teams
- Swap Shop
- Petting Zoo contact local farms
- Face Painting
- Hair Beading/Plaiting
- Halloween Party haunted house
- Dunk Tank/Throwing Wet Sponges At Teacher
- Treasure/Scavenger Hunt
- Pinata Contest made by students from recycled newspaper
- Antique Fair
- Fireworks Party
- Bouncy Castle
- Easter Egg Hunt
- Barn Dance
- Fancy Dress Party
- Line Dancing
- Midsummer Masked Ball
- New Year's Eve Dance/Party
- Movie Night
- Midnight Film Shows
- Murder Mystery Evening
- Trivia Night
- Night-Time Hide And Seek With Flashlights
- School Anniversary
- Slide Evening
- Board Game Night
- Pet Show
- Shakespeare Marathon
- Silly Games Afternoon (egg and spoon, silly races, wet sponge throwing, etc.)
- Theme Days/Evenings/Parties (countries - French, Spanish; soap operas, past-eras, etc.)
- Bowling (night or competition/bowl-a-thon)
- Debate Night (invite local experts with differing views)
- Guest Lecturer
- Create A Class and teach it
- Day Of Community Service Gather together a group of friends, and contact a number of organizations for which you would be interested in volunteering. Then have people sponsor you to do community service for 24 hours.
- Singing Grams/Card Delivery could be within the community. For a more specialized gram, try “mom-o-grams”
- Servant Auction bid off students for other students or teachers during non-class time
- Babysitting during a holiday (or other busy-time) older classes can provide childcare for busy parents
- Bagging Groceries Ask a local grocery store if you can bag people's groceries for donations. Be certain to put up a sign saying what the donation is for – collect used grocery bags ahead of time to re-use.
- Around The Neighborhood rake leaves,shovel snow,take care of a pet -- ask for donations
- Newsletter create a newsletter informing your peers and membres of your communioty about your organization or cause. Sell the newsletter for a small fee. Be sure to provide info about how people can become involved and/or donate to your school.
- Coat Check local mall during the winter holidays; charge a dollar, hand out tickets
- Honey-Do gather a team of home improvement folks to do fix-it things around the house
- Dog Walk
- Car Wash
- Restaurant Take-Over
- Variety Show
- Speech/ Lecture/ Dramatic Interpretation/ Poetry
- Talent Show
- Fashion Show with student-made clothes or donated from local shops
- Local Bands
- Puppet Show make puppets from recycled materials
Have competitors and spectators pay a small fee to participate or have competitors (if they are students) get sponsors similar to a “blank-a-thon”. For example, for a geography bee, students might get sponsors to donate a certain amount for every question they got correct.
- Egg Rolling Contest
- Computer Games
- Cooking using local ingredients (students/teachers)
- Mouse Trap Car Race student and community teams design cars out of recycled materials; give prizes for fastest, furthest distance, most creative use of materials
- Eating Contests
- Game Show
- Longest Chain Of Paper-Clips/Coins/Etc
- Penny Mile (coins are lined up and measured -done in teams)
- Spelling, Geography (Or Other) Bee use sustainable or environmental words
- Jelly Bean (Or Other Jar) Count
- Battle Of The Bands Gather some bands from your local community. Book a venue and advertise with posters, flyers, and radio announcements. Hold a mini-concert in which the audience chooses the winning band.
- Board Games monopoloy madness
- Marathon And Foot Races
- Marathon Events (dance, table tennis, aerobics, line dancing, badminton, etc - in shift teams)
- Hay Bale Rolling Contest
- Football Tournament
- Basketball (3 On 3), Soccer, Volleyball, Golf Match
- BMX Bike Display/Competition
- Kite Flying
- Teachers vs Students
- Wacky Races
- Pitch-A-Thon: Rent a radar gun and measure how fast people can throw a baseball or kick a soccer ball. Charge $1 per try and give a prize to the fastest individual.
- Beat The Goalie pick the best hockey/soccer goalie and invite people to try to score a goal for a prize
- Miniature Golf build a make-shift golf course at your school, featuring ramps, water, sand traps, etc. (any materials readily available) charge people to play a round during lunch
Charge admission; ask for donations;
if it’s appropriate, have exhibitors pay for a booth.
- Showcase A Local Talent (e.g., weavers)
- Student Art
- Bmx Bike
- Rapelling down a local building (a local mountaineering club or experts)
- Classic Car Show
- Student Made Video
- Recycled Fashion Show students wear parents' retro clothes
- Flower Show local gardeners with prizes; charge admission
These types of events will probably make less money, but can be quite fun and engaging for student participants. Typically, you can charge small fees to participate, or even better, have students find local community members or businesses to sponsor them. Offer awards and prizes; send photos of students in thank you cards to sponsors.
- Bad Hair Day/Tie Day
- Grams (Singing, Hug'a-Grams)/Card Delivery
- Non-Uniform Days pay to wear casual clothes or pajamas in formal/uniform school
- Soap Episodes Show/Theme Day
- Student/Teacher Swap Day
- Who's That Baby? (students/staff bring photos of themselves)
- School Fair (games/booths over lunch hour or for afternoon)
- Sell Food (fresh fruits/popcorn Friday)
- Jelly Bean (Or Other Jar) Count
- Comedy Lunch Hour (student performances/audience)
- Debates (can be fun e.g., student vs. teacher debate the merits of listening to music while studying)
- Kidnap A Teacher (the class who raises the most money gets to have their teacher kidnapped for the day. The class then gets to have a fun day w/movies, games, treats, etc)
An alternative to asking people to buy things they may or may not want in order to support your school is coming up with a creative twist to collect donations. These can be a great activity for students to get involved in and may even support healthful endeavors such as exercising in a walk-a-thon.
- Non-Bake Bake Sale (students figure out how much it would cost to bake certain items (e.g.,crest-fallen angel cake) and make up tickets, the parents/family then instead of baking, give the money directly to the school - the students then send thank you cards for the baked good)
- Penny Drive
- Blank-A-Thons (reading, walking, cycling, dancing, skipping, fasting,swimming, climbing stairs, cycling, knitting, kite-flying, hula-hooping, singing, three-legged walks etc. get sponsors or people in the community to pay per each book/chapter read, etc.)
- Buy A Brick if you are fundraising to build a school or building, have people make donations to purchase bricks -- put their name on the one
- Donation Containers at local businesses
- Snake Of Change map out squiggly line in prominent place; ask people to donate their pocket change to reach your goal
- "Can You Spare A Dollar"
- Selective Shopping OneCause Program. Target credit card users may designate registered schools to receive 1 percent of the value of all purchases made with their card.
- Goat Insurance a fun way to involve the community; can also be done with attractive items such as an old toilet redecorated.
Success stories and general information about preparing for and carrying out your fundraiser
A few fundraising tips
Earth Friendly Fundraising
Learn more about effective fundraising strategies and read success stories.
101 fundraising ideas